Neil Funk and Stacey King bring you behind-the-scenes insight and commentary on WGN's Chicago Bulls "BullsEye" blog. Also check out video of player interviews, photo galleries, and unique Bulls statistics from STATS, Inc.

December 2009 Archives

Game Notes For Saturday vs. Hornets

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stats inc.jpg* These teams are meeting for the first time this season. Chicago swept both games from New Orleans in 2008-09.
* New Orleans has lost two straight road games and is just 2-11 away from home this season.
* The Bulls have lost two straight games and are just 4-13 over their last 17 games overall.
* Chris Paul has averaged 24.3 points and 10.7 assists in seven career games against the Bulls, scoring at least 25 points in five of those contests.
* Derrick Rose has scored 24 or more points in three straight games, averaging 27.3 points on 53.1 percent shooting from the field in those contests.
* Tyrus Thomas, who has been sidelined with a broken arm since the first week of November, will return on Saturday for the Bulls.

New Lineup for the Bulls

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Vinny Del Negro is putting Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson into the starting lineup primarily because he saw the Bulls were not getting off to good starts in games.   He's trying to get some more focus and energy at the beginning of games.   This is not a reflection on Brad Miller or John Salmons.   No one expected Brad Miller to play starters' minutes - his role was to come off the bench and spell Joakim Noah or Tyrus Thomas.  

It's no secret that John Salmons was struggling with his shot.   Bringing John off the bench is a way to get him going and he does provide a scoring threat as part of the 2nd unit.

The next 9 games for the Bulls presents another "critical" stretch for the team.   We all thought December would be "critical"...coming off of the West Coast road trip.   But with 9 games against a lot of sub-.500 teams, the Bulls have a chance to gain some ground and get back to .500.    The Bulls need to beat the teams they are supposed to beat and get some wins at home and this next part of the schedule gives them that opportunity.

 

                                                                                         -Neil Funk

The Bulls New Year's Resolutions - Stacey King

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Stacey King.jpgThe first thing the Bulls need in the New Year is for everyone to be healthy. They seem to be getting closer to that goal. Tyrus Thomas will be back after missing six weeks with a broken forearm which will add to their frontcourt depth, give them more athleticism and provide a true shot blocker. Tyrus will also create havoc on the defensive end.

The second resolution should be to put four solid quarters together in a game. They have struggled with doing that in the last three to four weeks. They have played two good quarters or three good quarters and they have that one bad quarter that defines them for the rest of the game. When the Bulls have played a tough four quarters they show how good of a team they have the chance of being. We saw it earlier in the season before the west coast trip, when they were over .500. They played an entire game and tough defense. They got away from that after that trip and find themselves struggling right now.

The Bulls must find a way to get everybody on the same page on both ends of the court. When you are losing, like the Bulls have been losing, players feel that they have to do too much to get back on a good streak.This ends up forcing you to take bad shots or make bad decisions with the basketball. You need to trust your teammates, trust the system that the coaching staff scripts out and play hard every night. If they play hard every night and beat the teams they should beat and if they can occasionally steal a game from a team that is supposed to win you might find yourself battling for a playoff spot. The Bulls have played down to bad teams this season. That must stop.

The final resolution is to play in a playoff type atmosphere. December is almost over. It was supposed to be a kind month for the Bulls because they had a lot of home games. As we know it didn't play out that way. In the second half they will have to look at every game as a playoff caliber game. There are no hiccups here. You can't have any hiccups the rest of the way. There aren't enough games left to let any one of them slide through the cracks.

Thanks for your comments and questions. Keep them coming.  Be sure to tune in for the Bulls hosting The New Orleans Hornets tonight on WGN and WGN America at 7pm ct.

-Stacey King

Game Notes For Tuesday @ NY

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stats inc.jpg* The Bulls have won the last two meetings between the teams, including a 98-89 victory in Chicago last Thursday.
* Chicago has lost seven straight road games, getting outscored by an average of 18.3 points per game in those contests (109.3-91.0).
* The Knicks have won five straight games at Madison Square Garden, holding their opponent below 100 points in each of those five contests.
* Luol Deng has scored at least 20 points in each of his last four games, averaging 23.0 points on 52.1 percent shooting from the field in those contests.
* David Lee is averaging 21.0 points and 11.6 rebounds over his last seven home games, scoring at least 15 points in each of those contests.
* The Knicks are second in the league with 263 three-point field goals, while Chicago is dead-last, connecting on just 88 three-point attempts this season.

Game Notes For Monday vs. Kings

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stats inc.jpg* Chicago has won four of the last five games in this series (including a Nov. 17 win in Sacramento), after having lost 15 of its previous 16 games against the Kings.

* The Bulls are 9-1 this season when allowing fewer than 95 points, versus 1-14 when allowing 95 or more.

* The Kings are 10-3 (.769) at home but just 2-11 (.154) on the road. That's tied for the largest win percent difference in the NBA between home and road (.615; also Bobcats and Hornets).

* Tyreke Evans ranks among the NBA rookie leaders in scoring (20.0, 2nd), rebounding (5.1, 4th), assists (5.1, 2nd), steals (1.5, 2nd), and minutes (36.0, 1st).

* Jason Thompson is averaging 19.6 points and 10.1 rebounds over his last seven games, shooting 60.2 percent from the field.

* Derrick Rose scored a career-high 32 points in Saturday's win over the Hawks, making 14-of-24 shots. He also had no turnovers for just the second game this season.

Tyrus Thomas Almost Back

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Bulls Beat Hawks In OT

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Are the Bulls a Play-off Team?

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If someone asked me 'Have the Bulls played like a play-off team?', I would have to answer 'no.'

But that doesn't mean they are out of the race by any means.   One year ago, the Bulls were a game under .500 at this point in the season and came within a game of taking the 6th seed in the East and fought the Celtics to a 7th game in the first round.  

There are a number of teams with similar records to the Bulls.    Just a short little 3 or 4 game winning streak will put the Bulls front of teams like Indiana, New York or Detroit.

Before tonight's game against Atlanta, Vinny Del Negro said Tyrus Thomas is about a week away from playing again.  At the start of the season, I thought one of the Bulls' greatest strenghts was their depth.   With Hinrich and Thomas out with injuries, Vinny has had to put guys in unfamiliar positions and guys have racked up extended minutes.   Tyrus can play a couple of different positions and he can defend a couple positions, so Vinny will have more versatility with his roster and that, I think, will benefit the Bulls in the weeks to come.

                                                                                       -Neil Funk

Stacey King - Round Two vs Atlanta

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Stacey King.jpgBack on December 9th the Bulls took it on the chin from the high-flying Hawks, who happen to have the third best record in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls turned the ball over 19 times giving Atlanta a bunch of easy baskets, runouts and fastbreak points. If it is going to be different tonight, here in Chicago, the Bulls must take advantage of the crowd at the United center.  Even though Atlanta is coming in winning eight of their last ten games and are winning at home by an average of thirty-plus points, but it will be different playing on the road. The Bulls can't start slowly vs this Atlanta team. They must come out and get off to a good start and hope to catch Atlanta on their heels. A problem for the Bulls this season is falling behind early. This requires even that much more effort to get back in the game. The fourth quarter has also given the Bulls fits this season. Atlanta's Jamal Crawford must be contained. He came off the bench in the first meeting and scored 29 points. They need to be physical with Crawford. Also, the Bulls have to keep playing good defense. The effort has been there. They had a shot a beating the Lakers by shutting down the driving lanes. They will need to do this tonight vs the Hawks. Atlanta is one of the elite teams in the East and has a shot at making it to the Finals, if they stay healthy. Mike Bibby was playing with an injury but looks healthy now. The Bulls can't play sluggish early.

If you have any questions for me to answer in my upcoming Blogs leave them in the comments box. Thanks for reading and tune in tonight at 7pm ct on WGN and WGN America.

Stacey

Game Notes For Saturday vs. Hawks

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stats inc.jpg* The Hawks have won five in a row against the Bulls, averaging 114.2 ppg in these contests. Atlanta won the first meeting between the clubs this season by 35 points (118-83).
* Chicago is the only team in the NBA yet to win a game this season when allowing 100 or more points (0-10).
* Derrick Rose is 0-4 in his career versus the Hawks, but has averaged 21.3 ppg and 6.0 apg in these games, while making 50.7 percent of his shots.
* Joakim Noah has had at least seven rebounds in every game so far this season - including 17 with 10+ boards.

Bulls Survive Knicks

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Game Notes For Thursday vs. Knicks

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stats inc.jpg* Chicago has won nine of its last 10 home games against the Knicks, and 14 of its last 16. The home team won all three games in the series last season.

* The Bulls rank next-to-last in the NBA in both scoring (90.2; Nets - 89.3) and field-goal percentage (.423; Nets - .415). They have topped 100 points just twice in 23 games this season.

* New York had its four-game winning streak snapped Tuesday in Charlotte, losing 94-87 after leading by eight entering the fourth quarter.

* Danilo Gallinari went without a three-pointer for just the third time this season on Tuesday. He ranks third in the league with 2.8 three-pointers made per game.

* David Lee has made at least 50 percent of his shots in 12 straight games (63.2 percent over that stretch).

* Joakim Noah pulled down 20 rebounds in Tuesday's loss to the Lakers, with 14 coming on the offensive end. That's the most offensive rebounds in a game since Shaquille O'Neal had 14 versus Memphis on April 4, 2003 (with Lakers).

 

Bulls Lose To Lakers

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Phil's Return

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neil_funk.jpgObviously, when the Lakers come to town it's more than just a great team coming in to the United Center - it brings back memories of the Bulls' six NBA Championships during Phil Jackson's tenure as head coach.   But even beyond the banners and the trophies, it's all the people who worked with Phil here in Chicago and are with him in Los Angeles, too....Frank Hamblen, Jim Cleamons, Chip Schaeffer and Tex Winter who taught the triangle offense here in Chicago and also to the Lakers in LA.

The thing I think that is so remarkable about Phil Jackson's championship teams is the way Phil handles the personalities and the superstar egos of his players.   He was terrific with that in Chicago with Michael and Scottie and Dennis Rodman and in LA with Shaq and Kobe.   There are 2 coaches who were able to do that....Phil Jackson, as I explained, and Chuck Daly was the other.

                                                                                                    -Neil Funk

Stacey King - Will the Lakers Look Past The Bulls?

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  Stacey King.jpgTonight the Bulls face the World Champion Lakers at the United Center. The 18-4 Lakers are coming off a loss to Utah Saturday. They are a championship caliber team and they know what it is like to go on the road and they understand that every time you step into someone's building it will be a playoff atmosphere. Every team they face looks at it as their championship game. Tonight, for instance, the struggling Bulls will have that much more incentive and that much more motivation to beat the Lakers because they are the World Champions, not to mention the collective individual talent that the Lakers have. They are clearly one of the best teams in the league right now. This would be easy for L.A. to come in and slip up by thinking that the Bulls are struggling and how they beat them at home a few weeks ago. They Lakers scored 60 points in the paint and Pau Gasol had a huge game coming off an injury. It would be easy for the Lakers to come in and feel like this will be an easy game, a night off. The Bulls philosophy, on the other hand, will be to come out and treat it like a playoff game. They just lost a tough one to Boston and you have the World Champs coming in is motivation enough. It will be tough for the Bulls facing probably the best player in the league, Kobe Bryant. Not to mention their Head Coach, Phil Jackson who might go down as the best coach in NBA history. This makes for many sub plots in tonight's game. The crowd will be rocking and will provide a great energy at the U.C. tonight. The Bulls don't need any more motivation than that. The Lakers are chasing something other than a Championship. They possibly are chasing the Bulls record of 72-10 achieved in the 95-96 season. They do have the talent to challenge that record. So every game is important to them, they are chasing history.  Thanks for visiting and watch the Bulls on WGN & WGN America tonight at 7pm ct.

 

Stacey

Game Notes For Tuesday vs. Lakers

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* The Lakers have won the last five meetings between the teams, including a 108-93 win in Los Angeles on November 19 in Pau Gasol's first game of this season.
stats inc.jpg* Beginning with that loss to the Lakers, the Bulls have lost 10 of their last 12 games, getting outscored by an average of 105.0 to 90.3 points in those contests.
* Los Angeles had its 11-game winning streak snapped in Utah on Saturday. This is just the sixth road game of the season for the Lakers.

* Pau Gasol has grabbed 20 rebounds in each of his last two contests and is averaging 17.3 points, 17.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists over his last three games overall.
* Kobe Bryant scored a season-low 16 points in the Lakers' loss to the Jazz on Saturday. Bryant has scored 20 points or less in each of his last three road games.
* Derrick Rose has scored at least 20 points in all three of his career games against the Lakers, averaging 23.3 points in those contests.

Celtics Blow Out Bulls

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Game Notes For Saturday vs. Celtics

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stats inc.jpg* Boston will play in Chicago for the first time since a 128-127 triple-overtime loss to the Bulls in Game 6 of last season's first-round playoff series. The Celtics have won seven of the last eight regular-season games in the series.

* The Celtics have won nine straight games, with a 51.3 field-goal percentage over that span. Six of the nine wins have come on the road.

* Ray Allen became the 32nd player in NBA history to reach 20,000 career points with 18 points against the Wizards Thursday.

* Over his last three games, Rajon Rondo has 29 assists and just three turnovers. He scored a season-high 21 points on Thursday.

Bulls Beat Warriors

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Game Notes For Friday vs. Warriors

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stats inc.jpg* Chicago has won seven of its last eight home games against Golden State.

* Golden State is just 3-9 on the road this season, allowing a league-high 113.3 ppg away from home.

* After going 6-4 in their first 10 games of the season, the Bulls are 1-9 over their last 10, with all but two of the nine losses being by at least 14 points.

* Monta Ellis has averaged 25.1 ppg against Eastern Conference teams this season - 7th in the NBA (min. 8 G vs. East).

* Derrick Rose's field goal percentage has gone up as games go along this season - 36.5 percent in 1st, 42.3 in 2nd, 50.0 in 3rd and 57.1 in 4thquarter.

* Kirk Hinrich is averaging 5.4 ppg on 26.3 percent shooting over his last five contests. In his first game back after missing six contests with a finger injury, he went 0-for-9 - just the fourth time in his career he has gone without a field goal in a game while attempting at least seven shots.

Vinny Del Negro Addresses Job Status

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Game Notes For Wednesday @ Atlanta

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stats inc.jpg* The Hawks have won their last four games against the Bulls. It's Atlanta's longest winning streak in the series since taking five straight between 1985 and 1986.

* Chicago lost to New Jersey on Tuesday, 103-101. It was the Bulls' third consecutive defeat, as well as their eighth loss in their last nine games.

* The Hawks defeated Dallas on Saturday, 80-75. It was Atlanta's fewest points in a victory since beating Orlando, 80-79, on January 31, 2005, and its fewest in a road win since knocking off Miami, 76-73, on February 5, 2002.

* Luol Deng scored a season-high 27 points in Chicago's losing effort on Tuesday. He had totaled just 20 points in his previous two games combined.

* The last time Joe Johnson faced the Bulls in Atlanta (12/27/2008), he erupted for 41 points, the second-highest total of Johnson's career.

* Mike Bibby scored 31 points in his last game against the Bulls (1/20/2009). It was his third 30-point game versus Chicago since February 14, 2006, his most such outbursts against any opponent over that span.

 

Game Notes For Tuesday vs. Nets

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stats inc.jpg* The Bulls won last year's season series between the clubs, 3-1. Chicago has won four straight and six of its last seven home games against the Nets.

* New Jersey has the worst scoring offense in the NBA this season (87.6 ppg) and is shooting a league-worst 41.0 percent from the field.

* After opening the season 6-4, the Bulls have lost seven of their last eight games, including two in a row.

* Chris Douglas-Roberts has scored over 20 points in three of his last five games.

* Luol Deng is averaging 11.3 points and shooting 39.4 percent from the field over his last three games after averaging 23.8 points on 49.3 percent shooting in his previous four contests.

* The Nets are forcing 4.1 more turnovers per game in their last seven games (18.3) than they did in their first 13 (14.2).

Bulls Blown Out At Home By Toronto

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Where's LeBron Going?

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My take on the class of players who will become free agents at the end of this season is that LeBron James, like many of the big names that have been talked about, will end up re-signing with their current teams.   

In LeBron's case, there's more incentive to stay than there is to leave.   He's from the Cleveland area, his family is here and he has a built-in fan base.   How much more can he make in endorsements?    They've got his picture on the side of an entire building here in Cleveland.

The only incentive for him to leave would be if he felt the Cleveland team had no chance of winning a title.   Ownership has demonstrated that they are committed to spending money to make the Cavaliers a winning team and I think they will continue to do so.  

Boston, Orlando and a young Atlanta team are the main competition for the Cavs in the Eastern Conference.  I think the Cavaliers, as they are currently constructed, are built to compete and win the East, but I don't think they are built to win the NBA title.

 

-Neil Funk

Keys To Beating The Cavs Tonight - Stacey King

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Good evening from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Tonight the Bulls look to win consecutive games and their first win on the road since November 17th, in Sacramento. Here are my keys to tonight's game...

- CONTROL THE POINTS IN THE PAINT
 In the Bulls' November 5th win in Cleveland they managed to win the battle inside by     scoring  38  points in the paint to the Cavaliers 36. This season the Bulls are 4-2 when outscoring their opponents in the paint.

- MAKE LeBRON BE A JUMP SHOOTER
 Limiting LeBron to shots from the perimeter will be a key to the Bulls controlling the paint.
James is shooting over 50% from the field, with a majority of those field goals coming
 from inside.
 
- FASTBREAK  AND PUSH THE BALL
The Bulls need to take advantage of long rebounds and push the down the court. This is another element that the Bulls won during their victory over the Cavs in November.

The Bulls return home for 11 of the next 14 games. The United Center has been friendly to the squad where they have gone 5-1 this season.  Make sure and watch the Bulls tonight at 7pm on Bulls Net airing on WCIU Channel 26.

Game Notes For Friday @ Cavs

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stats inc.jpg* Chicago has won the last two games in this series, including a one-point victory (86-85) in Cleveland on November 5.

* The Bulls have lost their last five road contests, all but the last one by at least 15 points.

* Since losing to the Bulls at home on November 5, the Cavaliers have ripped off five straight wins on their own floor, averaging 107.2 ppg in these contests.

* Luol Deng has had 20+ points in three of his last five games against Cleveland.

* Anthony Parker ranks 4th in three-point percentage this season (.508 3FG%).

* LeBron James is averaging 9.3 ppg on .620 FG% in the first quarter of games this season.

Bulls Knock Off Pistons

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Game Notes For Wednesday vs. Pistons

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stats inc.jpg* Chicago has won eight of the last 10 meetings between these teams, including three in a row.

* The Bulls will be looking to snap their five-game losing streak. They have been outscored 109.2 to 93.4 during their current slide.

* Detroit snapped its seven-game losing streak with its 94-88 win over Atlanta on Sunday. The Pistons are 1-7 over their last eight road games and have dropped four in a row away from home.

* Ben Gordon, who has missed the last two games due to an ankle injury, is hoping to play against his former team for the first time since signing with Detroit in the offseason.

* Luol Deng has scored over 20 points in each of his last four games, averaging 23.8 points in that span. Deng hit the 20-point mark just three times in his 11 games prior.

* Ben Wallace is averaging 17.0 rebounds over his last two games and has grabbed at least 10 boards in eight games this season. Wallace grabbed 10 or more rebounds just nine times all of last season.